Even in a work environment with open communication and lots of transparency, there are some times that it is difficult for an employee to bring up a difficult conversation with their leader who they love working for or who is under stress of their own. The employee might feel like they are complaining too much and not want to be the squeaky wheel, or simply just be too emotional about a particularly stressful situation. One trick to overcome this is to implement a system with an employee who has difficulty expressing their feelings after a particularly difficult time. After letting them know that it is OK to come to you with work challenges, give them an easy way to do it.
One way to do this is to give them a “secret pass-code” to use to break the ice letting you know that they really need to talk but don’t know how to start. Tell them that before things get to a breaking point, they should come to you and use the pass-code. This let’s you know that this is not just a normal everyday frustration but something that the two of you need to spend some time working on. It may also help if the pass-code is something a little silly, like “lollipop”. If there is a lot of stress surrounding the situation, a silly pass-code might make it easier to break the ice with a smile.
It is key that this is mostly an “in case of emergency, break glass” type of system or it will not get the weight it should deserve if it is just used for everyday annoyances. Every job has its rough days, but using a system like this to prevent the possibility of losing a key employee when they feel like they have been pushed to the edge and don’t want to upset you can be critical.
Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997. He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.